Strange Circle Sheet Cakes
I says to him: “Remember to put your on mask before you go inside.”
“What?” he says, and moves violently toward me. “This is not a test. This is all you get. Why not make the best of it? Go. Go write your various things about white dwarves and red fiery giants.”
“No, just saying,” I say. “Stay healthy. Stay safe.”
He spits back: “Don’t be ridiculous I’m not nidicolous; but rather a falafel with pendulous testicles waiting for the flood to come. Latter day visionaries scream jeremiads at my prize marigolds, and the man in the moon is down with a case of botulism. Bottle that and eat it with crackers.”
Now I’ve got this umbrella furled and I slap it into my open palm to let him know I mean business if he moves any closer. (And I mean business) He eyeballs me and I tell him to cool it.
“Listen to me, buddy,” he says. “Every quinquennium… herpetology is the game. Do you know my name? I so hope I’m not envenomated… fa la la la la, let’s live for today… I was born at the Serpentarium. I’m quite the star: bent over, twisted and decrepit beyond my years. I’ve been bitten over 130 times at last count, and I’m so full of different snake venoms that my blood is used to make numerous antivenin. My penis coils and my tongue darts out to taste the air; and my jaw comes distended when I eat now. I’m such the hissy fur… Eat your mask!”
“Huh?!” is all I could manage. Fearful, I began backing up. Trying to spot my car in the parking lot. It was a brutally hot day, and the reflected heat coming back up at me from the macadam was intense. It felt like the bottom of my chin and neck were burning.
“Hey! Come back here,” he said. He began waving his arms in strange circles and stabbing at the air. He sprang toward me and sang:
“My uke is the chip on my shoulder… The baffling thing is that it’s also the chip in my chocolate…. My koolaid acid test, my plangent awkwardness… I strive to rise up from the floor, but only managed to fall down through to my auntie’s anus and into her large intestine… it’s dark and warm in there and I didn’t dare move...”
I turned away and ran into the lot, but he chased me down, wrapped himself around my legs and tackled me onto the frying tarmac. He was bestial. He was strong. He rolled me around and sat on my stomach. Pinned me down.
“Nothing in this world makes sense, chum,” he said. “Nothing. You never imagined this here when you left your house this morning. This is life. Don’t ever count on anything. Ever.”
“Stop,” I said. “Stop this and let me up.”
He smashed me in the mouth and loosened a bicuspid, it began to leak blood at the gumline onto the back of my throat.
“I am Ambage Circumbendius!” he said. “I have an indirect and circular manner of making my bed each morning.” He pulled me up by the collar, nose to nose. “Good morning!”
He palmed my face and drove my head into the ground. He said, “I spread a 100 by 50 foot tarpaulin over my tiny house each morning. That’s how I make my bed. Good afternoon!” He pressed his finger into the tip of my nose. “What do you think of that?”
He pushed off me, wheeled around, and disappeared into black maw of the Costco. Unbeknownst to him, they’d already sold out of sheet cakes.
“Because America… Good, god damn, evening,” I muttered.
“New myths are needed; but that’s none of my business.”
— Salman Rushdie / Midnight’s Children